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Q&A with Yuxin Liu

Yuxin is an international student from China, studying the Education MA. Before coming to UCL, she gained a background in Chinese literature and teaching, specialising in curriculum and pedagogy.

Yuxin Liu, Education MA student

What do you find interesting about your field of study and what inspires you?
Before I came to the UCL Institute of Education (IOE), my previous tutor taught me what a good educational researcher looks like. I am interested in Chinese literature teachers’ knowledge, which was also inspired by her. However, there is currently a big question in Chinese teachers’ knowledge: that we do not know how to describe teachers’ tacit knowledge. 

When I came to the IOE, I went to Guy Durden’s lecture in the induction week and at that time, I knew about Phenomenography. I thought that this methodology would help me to address the question in describing Chinese teachers’ knowledge. After that, I emailed Guy and always got support from him. During this period, I could see his passion for his study and his patience for students. All of this inspired me to choose phenomenography as my dissertation methodology and might also inspire me to apply for a PhD. 

How do you think the system of learning or researching at UCL differs from that in your own country?
In terms of graduate study, I don’t think there are lots of differences between Chinese system and the UK’s system. In my understanding, postgraduate learning depends on ourselves. The external conditions are the way to support us. 

The biggest difference for me is I can meet better researchers and access more exciting resources that when studying in Beijing. Not only from the programme but also at the seminars we can take part in at the IOE. (For example, I have been to the philosophy of education seminars on Wednesday evenings). 

I really appreciate the Academic Writing Center. It is an excellent place for me to learn the rules of academic writing. One-to-one tutorials and seminars are really useful. In China, we do not have a specific center like that.


What is it like studying in London and how do you think it has benefited your studies?
London is a multicultural city, that can provide me with different perspectives to see the world. People here respect difference. As for me, education is providing and respecting possibility. London is a great place to explore possibilities.

Besides, I am really interested in living in a historic city. Sometimes it is easy to touch history and culture in the way you walk around the city. It is a benefit for students who majored in humanity and social science. 

What is the best thing about your course?
Meeting some great lecturers and famous researchers, and learning from them in both how to do research and how to teach (for example, in the What is Education module).

Why did you apply to UCL for graduate study?
The educational resources at the IOE are brilliant. I can not only meet many great educators, but I can also access the IOE library system. It is a very attractive reason for students interested in education research. 

I also want to find out whether I prefer to study in the UK, as I plan to apply for PhD. Finally, the most important reason: I had not left Beijing for the past 23 years. I truly want to explore other places, that might show me more possibility. I think London and IOE might be a good choice. 

Has there been an element of your degree programme that has impressed you or been particularly valuable?
The ‘Meet the researcher’ conference has been a good opportunity to see how researchers work. 

Do you think studying at the UCL Institute of Education is a good investment?
Of course. If I have to do it all again, I will still choose the IOE.

Yuxin Liu, Education MA student

Is there anything else you would like to say about your time at the IOE?
I always think about the meaning for me to study abroad. I believe it is important to know what our purpose in this year are before we come abroad. Our aims decide what we feel about our programme and the experience of the year.

Many students who have already finished their MA study in the UK told me that it is difficult to gain more knowledge in one year, but it is vital for you to live in a new city and explore a new life. I think they are telling me their real experience, but I do not want to believe they are totally right. One year for many working people who only have 10 days holiday per year is a really long period. I do not think it is difficult to improve in the academic aspect. If it is difficult for them, it is just because of their aims in that year rather than the system. 

I appreciate my choice of studying at the IOE, where all my research interests are respected and supports me a lot. This year has shown me more possibility for my life, helped me to learn more about myself, my research interests, and my philosophy of education. Also, I think I will gradually achieve my aims step by step.

Briefly, knowing yourself is the essential question for everybody during their whole life. I am the lucky one who is gradually finding the answer on it. Thanks a lot for the IOE!